Sunday, 23 February 2014

9/6/2007 New guitar...

SubjectNew guitar!

If you aren't interested in guitars then don't bother reading this 'cos you'll find it rather boring...

So here's the story: Earlier this year I was watching Fables Last Stand at the Purple Turtle
and I noticed that lead guitarist Twiggy had a new guitar instead of his usual black
Gibson Les Paul Studio model. It looked like some sort of Les Paul style guitar, but not like
anything I'd ever seen before. Closer inspection revealed that it was an actual Gibson, so I
assumed it must be a customised one. I asked Twiggy and he said it was a new one - a
standard production model - a Les Paul BFG. I was intrigued as it looked so totally unlike
any Les Paul I'd seen before... When I watched Pirates Of The Caribean it looked like
Captain Jack Sparrow was likely to step out from behind a mast at any moment with a
guitar and launch into a Slash style solo! If Jack Sparrow had a guitar - this would be the one
he played!

I did some research and found some reviews - it sounded like this guitar was almost custom made for me by Gibson! I loved the spec, and the reviews were mostly very good too - the only real crititisms being matters of personal taste regarding the finish. I became obsessed with this guitar - I had to have one! It got to the stage where I actually had a picture of the guitar pinned up at work alongside all the pictures of girls in bands.  I hardly thought about anything else all day... I took a day off work and visited all the many guitar shops in the west end - expecting to try out a few guitars in the different emporiums. Much to my surprise, I found only one shop actually had one in stock!  And not at a very good price either.  And it was the cherry finish rather than the gold I wanted. A couple of the shops said they could order one for me - as long as I paid a non-refundable deposit.  I wasn't about to even consider doing that, as the one they ordered in might not turn out to be a good one - and I know no two guitars are ever identical. No one seemed to think they would be likely to have a BFG available for me to try in a shop any time soon, and no one seemed to be able to offer one at anything close to the price I'd seen them offered (new) on the internet. I wasn't keen on buying any guitar over the net though, I'm not at all keen on paying for a guitar I haven't even played, which might turn out to be a dog - and guitars have been known to be damaged in transit... None of the west end shops I visited seemed that bothered about selling me the guitar I wanted - even though it was a model that should have been readily available in England's capital city.  A phone call or two and I finally managed to track one down at Coda Music in Stevanage - they had two in stock for me to try. It doesn't take long to drive up there from North London so off I went. I tried a black and a gold one. I'd only seen the black and the cherry finish before, and true to what one of the guys in a London shop said, the gold one looked quite different in the flesh than in the photos I'd seen online - another good reason for insisting on 'trying before you buy'. The gold one I tried seemed to have a slimmer neck and sounded great - the price was also far better than anyone in London seemed to be selling them for as well. The staff said they had been selling plenty of these and had no trouble getting hold of them - so why were the London shops so disinterested?  It lost them a sale.

When I got it home I spent the best part of the next four hours playing it. My fingers are still sore now. The mix of single coil P90 and humbucking Burstbucker 3 pickups in a single guitar is very unusual in a Gibson guitar and gives a wider range of tones than normally available in a guitar with two similar pickups - although my trusty old favourite Gibson Marauder has a single coil/humbucker combination and a lovely tone. The dirty sound has plenty of bite and can sound quite aggressive, but the normal Les Paul construction of maple top and mahogany body/neck ensures the classic Les Paul tone is present. The BFG's clean sound with both pickups together is unusual and rather funky sounding. The P90 is warmer and more powerful than the single coil pickups you'll find in a Fender Stratocaster or Telecaster, and either pickup gives the rich tone that Les Paul's are famous for. The finish on BFGs is not going to be to everyone's taste - I'm sure some people will hate it. It looks and feels 'old', but that is one of the things I really like about it. I love the whole stripped back to basics 'no frills' ethos of this guitar. There is nothing on this guitar that isn't essential to it's performance - no pickup surrounds, binding, fancy finish, or scratchplate (although one is supplied in the case). It doesn't even have a truss rod cover - although oddly enough the headstock is drilled to take one and even has the screws fitted. There are no holes for the supplied scratchplate though - you'll have to fit that yourself if you want to - also I doubt many people will bother as it would look odd without the usual pickup surrounds. This guitar just  just oozes character, and no two BFGs will ever look quite the same. I also think the rough and ready finish will make this an excellent guitar for gigging - it's going to be great having an 'old' looking Les Paul with the classic sound and not having to worry about the inevitable knocks and scratches a guitar will get when used 'in anger' at regular gigs. It already looks like it's been round the world. I think this will probably become my main gigging guitar from now on...

Sorry is all of this sounds too much like a Gibson advert or something, but I've been after this guitar for a while, and now I've got it I'm pretty damn excited! 
PS: I've made a few changes to this guitar in the years since I bought, but it's proved to be a very good buy. I have guitars with a lower action and slimmer necks, but there is just something about this guitar I can't describe that makes it really fun to play - it has a certain Mojo which none of my other guitars have regardless of what they cost. It seems to have more of me in it - I've done a few things to it and it actually feels like it was made just for me. It seems to fascinate other people in a way that none of my other guitars do as well - it must be something to do with it's unusual finish - people at gigs often want to touch the guitar!

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